Angels settle with David Freese for $5.05 million

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The third baseman had an off year in 2013, but Los Angeles was even worse at the hot corner last year.

The Los Angeles Angels have avoided arbitration with third baseman David Freese by signing him to a one-year, $5.05 million contract, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.

Freese was acquired by Los Angeles in November in a deal that sent outfielder Peter Bourjos to the St. Louis Cardinals. Freese, who turns 31 in April, was seeking a $6 million contract in his second year of arbitration. The team had offered $4.1 million, so the two sides ended up settling at the exact midpoint of their respective salary figures. He will be the Angels' starting third baseman in 2014 -- the position opened up last season when Alberto Callaspo was traded to the Oakland Athletics in a deadline deal for infielder Grant Green.

More on the Angels' offseason: Visit Halos Heaven

Freese had improved in each year of his career in terms of both playing time and production until his performance dipped in 2013. He suffered a back injury during Spring Training that hampered his production early in the season and he finished with a .262/.340/.381 batting line (101 OPS+) with only nine home runs in 138 games. Those numbers represented a big drop from his 2012 stats, which included a 129 OPS+ and 20 long balls, and 2013 was the first time that he finished a season with a sub-.400 slugging percentage. He isn't much a fielder, so he'll need to rediscover his stroke at the plate if he wants to help the Angels win. Baseball-Reference valued him at negative-0.3 WAR last year, while Fangraphs was a bit more generous with its positive 0.3 figure.

Even if Freese repeats his 2013 season, though, he could still be an upgrade at the hot corner for the Halos. Their third basemen, led by Callaspo, Chris Nelson and Brendan Harris, posted a line of .246/.304/.333 with eight home runs in 2013. Furthermore, each of those players received negative ratings on Baseball-Reference's defensive metrics last year.

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